Interactive Media Design Career Training in San Francisco, CA

Jan 31, 2019

San Francisco Schools with Interactive Media Design Career Training Programs

The San Francisco, CA, area features a number of schools with interactive media design programs that train students in basic animation and graphic design techniques. This article explores three of those schools, none more than 40 minutes from the city center, and the degree programs they offer. It also includes a table of data about these schools, such as enrollment, tuition, graduation rate and acceptance rate. Following that is some information about a few other San Francisco-area schools with relevant programs.

  • Less than two miles from the heart of the city is the San Francisco campus of the California College of the Arts. It offers two relevant bachelor's degrees, one in animation and the other in graphic design.
  • California State University - East Bay is in Hayward, California, about 22 miles from downtown San Francisco. It provides a bachelor's degree program in multimedia and another in graphic art. This school also offers a master's degree in multimedia.
  • Diablo Valley College, 22 miles from San Francisco in Pleasant Hill, offers two certificate programs and an associate's degree program in art digital media.

Comparison of Schools

Individuals who are deciding on a college should be aware of many factors about the schools they are considering. The following table showcases information about these three institutions in a way that makes it easy to compare them.

California College of the Arts California State University - East Bay Diablo Valley College
School Type 4-year; private not-for-profit 4-year; public 2-year; public
Total Enrollment (2017) 1,927* 16,538* 19,775*
Campus Setting Large city Midsize city Large suburb
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2017-2018) $47,266* $6,834 in-state;
$18,714 out-of-state*
$1,312 in-state;
$8,424 out-of-state*
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2017) 77%* 79%* 33%*
Undergraduate Acceptance Rate (2017) 64%* 74%* Open admissions*
Retention Rate for First-Time Students (2017) 84% full-time* 75% full-time;
50% part-time*
78% full-time;
56% part-time*
Graduation Rate (for those who began their studies in 2011-14) 61%* 42% (3% transfer-out rate)* 45% (11% transfer-out rate)*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

California College of the Arts

Founded in 1907, this institution offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree plans related to various aspects of the fine arts. It holds accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD), among other organizations. Undergraduates interested in interactive media design may major in animation or graphic design.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation

This 120-unit program trains students for work in the animation industry, emphasizing keen observation skills, the authentic portrayal of emotion and behavior, and visual storytelling. Humanities/sciences requirements include courses in animation history, visual studies, and writing. The remaining 72 units consist of studio work, seminars, and workshops in drawing, animation, visual storytelling, character design, sound, and production. Senior projects on pre-production and production are required. Students have access to visiting professional animators from studios like DreamWorks and Pixar.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

This degree program demands that students complete a total of 120 units, including 48 units in coursework that fulfills the humanities and sciences requirement. The other 72 units are dedicated to classes and studio training in the major, including graphic design; interactive design; 2-D, 3-D, and 4-D graphics; typography; and media history. All students must complete a senior thesis project, and internships are available to help students get experience in settings like design firms, museums, publishing houses, and nonprofit organizations.

California State University

Founded in 1957, California State University (CSU) - East Bay currently has an enrollment of more than 16,000 students on four campuses. Enrollees can select from 49 bachelor's degree programs, 34 master's degree programs and 51 minors, including studies in interactive media design.

Bachelor of Arts in Art

Undergraduate artists can select from specializations in studio arts, design, and art history and visual studies. Students will complete 120 units, including 51 units in major coursework. The design concentration includes relevant interactive media coursework. Some topics include web design, the history of graphic design, production design, illustration, interaction design, and culture in modern media.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design

Students seeking a BFA in Graphic Design will complete at least 127 units, with 70 units in the major. Students complete classes in drawing, design, graphic arts, typography, graphic design history, and web design. This degree plan also requires 13 units of upper division courses and a senior capstone project in graphic design.

Master of Arts in Multimedia with a Concentration in Interaction Design

This two-year interdisciplinary program is designed to develop real-world career skills in the multimedia arts by combining computer science, art, telecommunications, journalism, and psychology. The program requires 34 units of study in topics like project development, multimedia research, and the development of interactive content. The interaction design concentration requires coursework in areas like prototyping, experimental interactivity, and storytelling experiments. Students work together to develop professional quality interactive media projects, and the program concludes with a senior capstone project.

Diablo Valley College

More than 19,000 students annually participate in the certificate and associate's degree programs at Diablo Valley College (DVC). The school has articulation agreements with 4-year institutions in the area, so graduates can transfer and complete a bachelor's degree program. DVC has three options related to digital and interactive media, including two certificates and an associate's degree.

Certificate of Accomplishment in Art Digital Media

This 15-unit program provides instruction in technologies related to the presentation of art and information. Students take core classes in drawing, as well as digital imaging, digital sound, and digital video. Through electives, they can explore motion graphics, 3D modeling, interactivity, and animation. This training is intended to improve the skills of the professional artist and to provide new students with an introduction to the field.

Certificate of Achievement in Art Digital Media

This program is similar to the certificate of accomplishment, but participants must complete 36 units in order to earn it. Students can choose from several specializations including web design, digital imaging, graphic design, and animation. They must take 11-12 required courses in topics like motion graphics, digital media, digital imaging, digital audio, animation, typography, and digital interface.

Associate of Arts in Art Digital Media

This degree program prepares individuals for entry-level employment in the digital imaging industry. Students complete 36 units and select a specialization from among 3-D modeling and animation, digital imaging, motion graphics, Web design, digital audio, or character animation. Students must complete six required classes and nine units from their specialization. Students must also complete nine units in electives.

Other School Options

Students who'd like to study interactive media design in the San Francisco area might also consider Berkeley City College, about 11 miles northeast across San Francisco Bay. This 2-year public school awards a multimedia arts certificate in animation, digital imaging or digital video arts, and an associate's degree in multimedia animation or digital imaging. Another option is the City College of San Francisco, a large public school with over 26,000 students that is around four miles from downtown San Francisco. This school doesn't have degree programs in interactive media, but it does offer certificates in visual media design, digital animation and game development.

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